And as I faintly remember you coming out of Fatehpuri Masjid, it was an evening of prayers and colours crashing against a rebel sky. A sky believing in anointing an old belief stretching all the way to the Hindu Kush where it turns bleak. At the Khyber pass or further at Chitral the same sky seems to disappear. They tell me a sky here died long back riddled with bullets from AK 47 shot by her own people. Somewhere in a Dera Bugti hill side, Nawab Akbar Bugti too died in a hail of bullets dreaming of peace and coexistence. You told me many stories of the Lahori Gate which doesn’t exist anymore and your generations that believed in India since then. Like many other evening even refusing to comprehend, I always waited, feeling the aroma of your itr as you came nearer. It was this clever stroke of losing ourselves in a crowd of loud thinkers, without talking till we reached Khari Baoli, laughing all the way till the spice filled air evoked cough, laughter and cough again. The cashew seller, Arif Chacha, participated in this grand plan every week, munching cashews we just looked at each other and only sometimes you would touch my ears as chacha jaan arranged to become busy. The sky reddened as if it will explode any moment crushed by an evening closing in to our breath. I had told you many things, rambled off to inconsequential endings like the havelis, its filigreed windows abruptly ending in long shadows, longer secrets. When we did finally part every Friday evening, Arif Chacha always insisted in forgetting to take any money, you forgot to put your veil down and I as usual forgot the way back home.
Drawing and Poem by Amitabh Mitra